Tag Archives: textiles

Rowan Day Out at the FTM


Liberty in Fashion. Photo: Daniel Lewis


Zandra reviewing some of the Free Spirit fabrics she designs for Rowan

It’s time for another day out with Rowan. Last time we went to the Clothworkers’ Centre in Kensington. This time we’re going to the Fashion and Textiles Museum in Bermondsey to see the new Liberty in Fashion exhibition. The exhibition celebrates the 140th anniversary of the iconic design store. This is the first major retrospective of the 21st century on the pioneering retailer and design studio Liberty. At the cutting edge of design and the decorative arts since 1875, Liberty is celebrated throughout the world both as a department store and for its distinctive textile prints.


Hat and scarf combos never look this good when I wear them. Photo: Daniel Lewis


Intarsia design by Dee Hardwicke

We’ll also be meeting and hearing from the indominatable Zandra Rhodes, designer extraordinaire and founder of the museum. Her studio is next door so she won’t have far to come.
Coming all the way from Herefordshire is artist Dee Hardwicke who will be giving us a workshop on designing an intarsia pattern with Rowan Tweed (all materials included of course). After all that inspiration there has to be an outlet (and some knitting). I can’t wait, which is okay as it’s on November 24, so really soon.

Read my article in Rowan Magazine 58
Book a place on trip here Rowan website

Agave silk

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Agave plant outside MarrakechIMG_3920Deutsch-Ostafrika, Sisalfabrik

On a recent trip to Marrakech we went out towards the Atlas Mountains and came across this cactus-like plant. It looks a bit like an aloe, but apparently its an agave plant.   Each leaf contains long fibres that are used to make a local silk. Breaking down the fibre, retting or decortication, is probably done in the countryside by machines as in this image of processing sisal from Tanzania from 1906 and 1918.

In the souks in the heart of the medina, piles of this spun yarn are dyed and hung up in the sun to dry on long poles that reach across the streets below. The salesman was confused about someone wanting to buy the yarn rather than one of the woven scarves on sale. I’m sure I paid over the odds, but we did have a tour of the dyers’ quarter. Back home the task is to untangle the huge slippery skein. I can’t wait to knit some swatches and I’ll post them here when they’re done.


It’s all yellow

This week it’s been all about yellow. I’m sure there’s a song in there somewhere, or perhaps it’s just fashion/spring (delete as inclined).

These are part of  Wanderlust by Jilly Edwards as seen at Collect 14.

Jilly Edwards, Winter Ploughing

Jilly Edwards, Winter Ploughing 

Jilly Edwards, Field Fence

Jilly Edwards, Field Fence

Donald Hamilton Fraser – Cyclades 1960

Donald Hamilton Fraser – Cyclades 1960

This shocking 60s yellow fabric is on display at the Fashion and Textile Museum as part of their Artist Fabrics exhibition.
Then the Emmanuel Cooper retrospective at Contemporary Applied Arts’ new home in Southwark (and it was all yellow too – apart from the pink ones).

later pots

Emmanuel Cooper, handbuilt pots

EC at CAA IMG_2572 IMG_2567

Knit for Peas

IMG_1615It has been a while since my last confession on this blog. It’s Wool Week and I’m recovering from a long weekend at the Knitting & Stitching Show, Knitting for Peace at the House of Commons, (very cool) and negotiating one of our patterns to go on the Guardian website. Later this week we’re off to the Rowan awards at Libertys, so it’s all go.

On the Knit for Peace stand at the K&S Show we were telling anyone who would listen about the kits that we send out. Each box contains yarn, needles and patterns, all donated by you, the public. These are a lifeline to women who may be stuck in a refugee holding centre with nothing to do, and means that they can knit for their families and keep themselves busy.

When I had my lunch break I hot-footed it around some of the other stalls and stumbled into Max’s World. She was selling necklaces with my name on, so one had to be purchased. I also adored her Knitting Octopus. If you are very keen you can buy the pattern (or just buy the card, that’s what I did).

IMG_1834 IMG_1832 IMG_1831 crafter-necklace-blue-500x375

Post K&S we ran on to the House of Commons for a Good Gifts reception where we talked even more about Knit for Peace. We laughed about knitting peas for peace with Susie Johns, the pea designer, and Marie Wallin from Rowan (above) who has donated a lovely crochet cowl pattern to the cause. You can read all about it and see the patterns at www.knitforpeace.org.uk


Irish Lizards

IMG_1269I’ve been busy researching a new artcle about Irish crochet lace for Rowan and was excited to be invited along to the photo shoot. Having spent a month or so pouring over ancient library books it was astonishing to see the detail of work for real.IMG_1389 This is one of the books that I was permitted to look at in the V&A reading library. (The ‘snake’ at the base of the photo is the weight that holds the pages open without damaging the bindingIMG_1381.)
The pictures don’t prepare you for the sheer awesomeness of the real thing. Here is the model at the shoot wearing a wedding dress. She can’t sit down for fear of damaging the dress, so the make-up artist has to improvise! These precious garments are on loan from the Knitting & Crochet Guild’s archive collection at Lee Mills, near Holmfirth, Yorkshire.
This is Marie Wallin, Head Designer at Rowan, putting the finishing touches to this exquisite ‘Lizard’ Jacket. You can see why is it called the “Lizard” by the close-up. This is a pattern from Album de Guipure d’Irlande by Madame Hardouin (1905). Also on this jacket are delicate baubles stitched along the netting at the sleeves and on the bodice.IMG_1378

These crocheted baubles look so contemporary, but the thread that they have been worked in is as fine as sewing cotton. I’m not sure that I even have a hook that small…